Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mac Attack: Pistachio Sprinkled Macarons for Falling for Macarons...It's Fall!

I've wanted to participate in the MacTweets Challenge for a couple of months now, and finally...here I am!!

I am so glad to have 'made' it this month of November, with the MacAttack #13...Falling for Macarons ... It's Fall!

For those who don't know, it's summer all year round where I live so you could say I had to use my imagination and memories of the four Fall seasons I experienced during my college years in the US to soak in the Fall mood for this challenge.

Coincidentally, Fall was my favorite season!! I love the warmly colored autumn foliage of greens, yellows, orange and reds. This inspired my pumpkin-colored macarons sprinkled with pistachios (love the green!).

Pistachio sprinkled macarons with chocolate ganache filling

The macaron madness has definitely caught on me and I'm so glad I found the MacTweets blog and looking forward to future MacTweets challenges!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baking With Dorie: Applesauce Spice Bars

This week it's Chaya of Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog's turn for hosting BWD and she has chosen Applesauce Spice Bars on page 117 of Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Hop over to her blog for the recipe!

I loved preparing this week's bake as it did not take any time at all!! And the ingredients of apple, pecan and cinnamon made the kitchen smell terribly wonderful as they were baking in the oven.

A little note: I omitted the raisins and substituted applesauce with homemade apple puree. Plus there were not enough glaze to cover the entire bar, so I made double the recipe.

A lovely snack to have with tea, the minimal ingredients yielded 32 little bars!! I saved a few pieces for home and took a dozen bars to my sister's place and the rest will be shared with the lovely people at the office!

See how the other BWD bakers did this week here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baking With Dorie: My Favorite Pecan Pie

Pies are foreign imports from where I come from and this one is definitely all-American!

I had my first taste of pecan pie as a kid when an American restaurant called Jimmy Dean's Diner opened in town (I think it closed down just after a couple of years, though). I was totally in love with it!! When I went to college in America, pecan pie was so within reach and my love affair with the sweet, succulent pie continued. How can this not be everyone's favorite pie?

So when it came my turn to pick a recipe from Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours this week, I chose pecan pie which I think is perfect for a Fall bake.

And... my homemade pie tasted exactly the way I remembered it!! Delicious!! And made more perfect with ice-cream :) What a great flash from the past!

You may scroll down for the recipe or better yet, get Baking From My Home to Yours where you'll be immersed with wonderful recipes from cookies to cakes, pies to puddings and even ice-cream!! This recipe is on pgs 326-327.

I played around and made mine minus the chocolate, cinnamon and expresso powder as I wanted to bake the original pecan pie. I also made one and a half batch of Dorie's Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough as my pie dish was 9 and a half inches instead of 9'. I didn't want to stretch out the dough, plus knowing how good the pie crust is, I didn't want to end up wishing my pie had more crust to go with the filling :) I think the pie crust and filling ratio was perfect.

Some of our BWDers were not able to bake this on time this week, but do hop over to blogs of those who did here.

And here's the recipe for the fabulous Pecan Pie!

My Favorite Pecan Pie

1 9-inch single crust made with Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough (page 442), partially baked and cooled

3/4 cup light corn syrup (use 1 cup if you want a sweeter pie - I went with 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and give the batter a good mix.Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Turn the filling into the crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by cutting a 9-inch circle out of the center of an 11-or 12-inch square of aluminum foil.

Lower the oven temperature to 175 degrees. Place the foil shield on top of the pie—the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil. Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time is 30 to 35 minutes), or until it has puffed (the middle and the edges should be fairly evenly puffed), is beautifully browned and no longer jiggles when tapped. Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shield and cool to room temperature.

Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough

1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces

About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening care cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing — what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water — add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)

To roll out the dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand.

You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. (I usually roll this dough out on the floured counter.) If you’re working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to life the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases.

If you’ve got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 mins to rest and firm up.

Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.

To partially or fully bake: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Better the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.